NWSL Player Refuses To Wear Pride Night Jersey

Jaelene Daniels noped out of wearing a jersey that fights discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Jaelene Daniels refused to play for the N.C. Courage on Friday night. 

Hours before the Courage were to host the Washington Spirit on their Pride Night featuring LGTBQ+ pride jerseys, the North Carolina club announced Daniels would not feature because she refused to wear a jersey that promotes equality and fights discrimination.

“Jaelene will not be rostered tonight as she has made the decision to not wear our Pride jersey,” a Courage spokeswoman said in a statement. “While we’re disappointed with her choice, we respect her right to make that decision for herself.”

In 2018, Daniels (then Hinkle) famously turned down an opportunity to play for the USWNT because she didn’t want to wear a Pride jersey. She briefly retired but the Courage signed her in December to much fan backlash. The NWSL is full of LGBTQ+ players and fans, and not even a poorly conceived apology assuaged fans after signing a player who has openly come out against the LGBTQ+ community

“We as a club acknowledge the impact this announcement has on our community,” the Courage said in an attempted apology before doing nothing to remedy the situation. “We’ve spent the past few days reading your messages and reflecting on our actions. We are very sorry to all those we have hurt, especially those within the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Covid protocols forced the Courage to postpone their Pride Night from June, making for a rare July Pride Night (though at some clubs, Pride Night is every night). 

It’s hard to reconcile a club having a Pride Night when it pays a player who is openly homophobic. Anyone could have predicted this would happen once the club signed Daniels, who uses her faith as an excuse for her homophobia. Daniels refusing to wear a Pride jersey is akin to her saying Black people don’t deserve the same rights as white people or that women are inferior to men and deserve to be paid less.

Homophobia, transphobia and any anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry has no place in the world, let alone soccer.